Empire of Storms was one of the most highly anticipated reads of the year. With the cliff hangers left at the end of Queen of Shadows, and a plethora much beloved characters that the reader just can't get enough of, it's needless to say that many fans of the Throne of Glass series were sitting on the edge of their seats for a year, impatiently waiting for the release date of the fifth book in the New York Times Best Selling Series. By the time the book was actually released, the hype surrounding it was gargantuan to say the least-- as were its reader's expectations. And, unlike many other books before it and many books still to come, Empire of Storms did not disappoint. Not only did this book live up to its hype, it surpassed it.
"A court that wouldn't just change the world. It would start the world over."
Where to start? There are just so many things to talk about, so many feelings and emotions that are nearly impossible to put into words. Like all of Sarah J. Maas' books, the ending of Empire of Storms had a profound effect on me. There are book mourning periods, book hangovers and then there is finishing a Sarah J. Maas book and realizing you must wait another whole year to get your hands on the next one. The latter may be the worst feeling of all.
Let's just start this review off by saying that I applaud Sarah for another book well done. And by well done I mean another book that absolutely tore my heart out and had me wondering what the purpose of my life was if I couldn't have the next book immediately. (I am saying all of this in a good way.)
"Aelin was no savior to rally behind, but a cataclysm to be weathered."
You don't or are tired of the like the damsel in distress trope? Stop looking! You've found the right place. The females in this story are anything but a damsel in distress, the ones that don't have the physical capabilities to defend themselves are master manipulators-- capable of getting their way with a few well placed words and pretty smiles. "Dumb Blonde" are not two words that would describe any character in this story.
"You know, you ladies could let us males do a thing every now and then."
As mentioned before, I am very attached to each and every one of the protagonist-ic characters. If any of you have read any of my previous reviews, I might've mentioned not exactly having a great connection to Elide or Manon at some point. SCREW ALL OF THAT. I absolutely love both Elide and Manon and was excited whenever I saw that I was back in one of their chapters.
Each and every chapter in this book was intriguing. One might find themselves shocked by how much time/many pages had passed since last visiting one of the characters, not because that character's storyline was boring, but because all the other storylines matched that one's in captivation. Sorry, that was really bad wording I actually just finished the book and my mind is literally just blank. I'm also switching between third, second and first person a lot. I'M SO SORRY. I should probably wait to write the review, but I hardly have the time (thanks, high school), and I should probably try and at least get my emotions out on it now.
10/10 stars, while reading, I wasn't sure if Empire of Storms would really be considered equal to Queen of Shadows in my mind, but now I have not a doubt about it. Empire of Storms, dare I say it? Might be the best book in the series. It's not even the shock factor of the ending, but also just the way everything pieced together. There were big pay off moments, especially if you paid close attention while reading previous books and if you read the novellas. I actually would recommend the novellas if you have yet to read them previous to this book. You can still understand the book, but you will have a better understanding (and more of a pay-off-y feel) if you read the novellas first. Speaking of, I think that's the first place I'm going to hit on my reread of the entire series. I wanted to spend some more time with Sam (my bae) anyway.
THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS TO DISCUSS. It's so hard to organize any thought in my head right now, so my apologies for this review being all over the place.
Aelin. We spent a lot less time in the Queen of Terrasen's head than I was expecting. And that was not necessarily a bad thing. It was interesting, seeing Aelin from others' perspective, and even more fun to attempt to unravel Aelin's plots and schemes while not in her own head. Aelin is literally the dream protagonist. She's witty, smart, cunning and far beyond able to take care of herself. I'm not sure if I'll ever truly read another book where the protagonist reaches Aelin level glory in my head. (Well, maybe Feyre, but that's another story.) Every little thing that Aelin does is somehow part of her scheme. It may be something small that you hardly notice, until the scheme unravels and you wonder how the heck you didn't catch it before. That's one of the many wonderful things about Sarah's books, they still keep you on edge. Not just cliche stories where you know exactly what's going to happen.
Manon. Oh, Manon. I loved her story in this book, just as much as I loved any other character's. She might have had the biggest character arc. It was something that Sarah had been working up to since introducing her in Heir of Fire, but Manon did not truly complete that arc until now. And I loved it. Manon and Abraxos, just one of the many pairings of these stories that I love and would be hurt to see separated.
If I had to chose a favorite storyline, though, it might have to be Elide's. Yeah, surprising since I wasn't all that interested in her last book (what? I really just wanted to get back to Aelin's storyline.) It's funny, with most multi-POV books, there is at least one POV the majority dislikes for some reason or another. (e. LUCIA (I HATE HER) from Falling Kingdoms) There was no POV that I disliked or found to be pointless. I loved it all and would (will) gladly read it over again and again. Back to Elide. She, too, had a massive character arc in this book. Going from being a scared, shadow of a girl to an impressively cunning warrior in her own right. And I'm not going to say with who, but someone else in Elide's storyline made it possibly one of the best storylines in the book, with possibly my favorite ship of the entire series floating along with it.
Something I missed dearly in this book was the Aedion/Aelin interaction. There wasn't much, they were together, but didn't really talk much (I felt) aside from war plans and strategies. I know, a mushy scene between the two wouldn't exactly fit with either of their characters nor the tone of the book, but I still would've liked to see them together a bit more in the duration of the novel. Though, the Aedion/Lysandra vibes I was getting almost made up for it. (yet another ship)
I won't go into detail about how I felt about all the characters in this story that I love and blah, because I could literally write the equivalent of a novel with that idea, and I'm sure no one really cares enough (or has the time) to read that. So I'll just repeat, I loved all the characters in this story-- well, not the antagonists, but I think you get what I mean. I'm just going to mention a few more characters that I have some larger opinions on that I feel I need to state.
Lorcan? Remember him? Kind of an arse that was there to annoy? I freaking love him now. I didn't really heed him much during my read of Heir of Fire, and he was more of a nuisance in Queen of Shadows. Now? Now he's my baby that I would want to protect no matter what. This book does a good job of... well, not humanizing him, but humanizing him. It shows his thoughts and perspectives on things that make it almost impossible not to fall in love with the dark Fae. Like many of my favorite (male) characters, his actions speak louder than his words and AH. I just couldn't help it. I fell for another (there are many) one of Sarah J. Maas' irresistible male characters. Let's just leave it at, I was rooting for him, and hoping, and praying that he would not perish in this book.
Then there's Fenrys and Gavriel (Uncle Kitty-Cat). I won't say when, how, or why we see them, just that we do. AND AH. I just loved getting to know more of the Cadre-- especially Fenrys. Gavriel, yeah, he's your typical honor-bound guy, I liked him and didn't want him to die. Fenrys? Yeah, he's your average Anji will most definitely fall in love with him after she really gets to know him and his backstory kind of guy. Yeah. Some of his life is mixed into that formula that I just can't seem to resist cocky+cute undertone+ action speak louder than words+ tends to piss people off with his remarks+ attractive+ sad backstory + more = Anji is guaranteed to fall (almost) instantly in love. Sarah, if you're reading this, sorry for the scattered, crap review, and please, please, please, write more Fenrys in as well as possibly an entire novel on him. I love him. LOVE HIM. I want to get to know more about his relationship with his twin brother, Connall. From what I got from this book, I kinda got the vibe that Fenrys would do anything for him, but Connall is happy being Maeve's lapdog, and didn't really seem to care overly much about his brother. But then again, I was just reading into things and don't actually know much of anything about the relationship between the two brothers-- just that Fenrys would go to the ends of the earth, to hell, for his brother. At the moment, I'm not Connall's biggest fan.
And I'm most definitely not Maeve's biggest fan, but more on that in the spoilers.
Anyway, I don't really know what else to say that won't spoil y'all, so just READ THIS BOOK and here's the synopsis:
The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't.
As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?
SOO SO GOOD. Definitely will go down in history as one of my all time favorites.
Anyway, without further ado.
I was in love with this book before it was even written, and I still remain to be seriously in love with the entire book after finishing it.
LORCAN AND ELIDE. I SHIP IT SO FUDGING HARD THAT I CAN COMPARE IT TO NOTHING THAT WOULD DO IT JUSTICE. I knew just from the beginning that they would become some kind of pair-- and very quickly figured it would be romantic after they actually met. Oh my god. Just everything about them I love. Literally to get me through some classes I would just think of them and look forward to reading their next chapter-- and then I'd have a goofy grin on my face that probably had a lot of my teachers worried. I don't really smile a lot in class. AH. I LOVE THEM. Just everything about them. How they met, how their relationship grew and just ah. I love it. I can't express it probably in words. Their tumultuous relationship had me laughing, riveted and my heart threatening to explode from the sheer cuteness of it. At different times, of course. AND THEY'LL ALWAYS FIND EACH OTHER (and Lorcan will always protect her.) Couple goals, anyone? Yeah, yeah, Lorcan betrayed Aelin for her, but guys! He did it for love! I'm not gonna fault him for that. And now he's free of Maeve. Hehe. Now if only we can get Fenrys free from her. (I have a bad suspicion that he will only be freed through death :() Elide just brought out this side in Lorcan that was more tender and gentle. It's partially what made me really come to love him. The other bit is because he's just too irresistible. I'm just a sucker for irresistible boys (or should I say males?)
Also, just random nit picking here. Sorry. There was a spelling error (not really spelling) on page 268 when Lorcan calls Elide Elide in his mind before he finds out that she is in fact, Elide. (Also, just like to comment on the fact that I'm glad Elide lose hope in Aelin after Lorcan's outburst about her)
I really was not expecting the sex scenes-- I guess Sarah liked writing them so much in ACOMF that she wanted to add it in to her other series as well. I didn't really mind it, I mean, I didn't get all excited like oh! Rowan and Aelin are having sex! How fantastic is this? (Actually, does anyone think like that?) I didn't mind it, but it did surprise me. I always kind of thought of this series as Sarah's young adult series, and while, yes, its protagonists are young adults, it still seemed like a bit much for some younger readers that might be reading the series who were, so far, pretty much following the young adult guidelines.
It's funny actually, it seems like they just all got really horny. I guess that can happen when you can die at any moment but haha, after Aelin and Rowan's fun times on the beach, it just seemed to spark the hormones in the rest of the book's cast. And Aedion caught it all, which had me cracking up. Aedion is still bae, he's just bae next to a few more BAES.
Lysandra and Aedion honestly had the cutest relationship. It wasn't really a physical one (the only none physical one of the book), but it was cute none the less. I loved how much they respected and helped each other throughout the book. And when Aedion helped Lysandra by threatening to marry her. Ah. Threats that make up my ship dreams these days. (I seriously thought Lysandra was dead during that battle meaning I thought she would most definitely die, I'm glad she didn't.)
I didn't mind RowanxAelin in this book nearly as much, I almost liked them. It's not like I disliked them, I just don't really place their relationship high on my SHIP list for this series. (Lorcan and Elide bopped to the top on that one (high school musical, anyone?)) I am really looked forward to Rowan & team wreak havoc on Maeve for what she's done in the next (and last?) book. Actually, I'd look forward to seeing anyone wreak havoc on Maeve. Seriously. She's such a freaking ********************* . Let's leave that to your imagination, shall we?
I did predict the ending as soon as Aelin started fighting Maeve-- it parallels pretty well with the end of ACOMF. I really have been enjoying these parallels (dreamers, mates one knowing etc.) But what made her sacrifice even more poignant is when all her allies showed up a second too late. That really hit me hard, as well as Aedion's reaction (and Rowan's.) This book just really shows how much Aelin has matured and grown into a woman worthy of being a queen. Though, I kind of have the vague feeling that she will probably end up giving her life to safe the land. It would be extremely poignant, but somehow I wouldn't hate that choice on Sarah's part. Unlike the Di-- never mind. I don't know, it seems a lot less fitting if Dorian dies. It started and ended with Aelin. That seems pretty fitting, though, don't get me wrong, I would like Aelin to live happily ever after. (and if it makes her happy, make a lot of ice fire babies with Rowan.) I just can see how ending the series with Aelin dying for the land seems fitting.
Um. Well, it's late and I'm tired from an all around disappointing field hockey game. If I ever want to, (which I most likely will want to but won't actually do) I'll come around and edit this crappy review, but until then, thanks for reading my scattered feels.